If it feels like everyone and their mother is telling you about the podcasts that you “HAVE” to listen to, you’re not alone. Just a couple of days ago, I had someone recommend to me the new podcast Monster: The Zodiac Killer brought to listeners by the same team of the podcast The Atlanta Monster.
And while I politely, yet firmly, let this friend know that if I hear one more person recommend me a podcast about serial killers, they may or may not meet the same end as the Zodiac Killer’s victims, I usually welcome recommendations with open arms (and ears).
But there’s one brand of podcast that, personally, I don’t love all that much: the self-help podcast. Self help podcasts include shows like The School of Greatness, Life Coach, and everyone’s favorite, The GaryVee Audio Experience.
Though I’m sure people do actually learn something from these podcasts, they just don’t resonate with me. Maybe it has something to do with how inauthentic advice culture seems when you monetize it and turn it into a brand. Maybe it’s how so many people giving this so-called advice/motivation/life inspo never seem to talk about the systemic issues that stop people from pursuing their truest, highest self. Maybe I just hate being preached to about the benefits of manifesting.
If you, like me, are tired of the oversaturated market of self-help podcasts, let me give you a few recommendations for you to binge-listen. Though I can’t promise you that these podcasts are going to help you get out of your own way and pursue your dreams, I truly believe that each of these podcasts helps make the world a more enjoyable place to be.
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
Comedian, writer, and late-night host Conan O’Brien can’t seem to figure out why his friend circle is small, considering he’s spoken with hundreds of celebrities on his show throughout the years. So, naturally, he started a podcast to ask some of his favorite guests why they aren’t closer friends.
The result is a lot of funny, heartwarming, and insightful conversations with incredibly famous people. Much like another favorite of mine, Armchair Expert, these episodes give you an exclusive look at the other side of show business—away from the lights, cameras, and action.
Favorite episodes: “Stephen Colbert,” “Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally,” and “Michelle Obama.”
Why Won’t You Date Me?
Few comedians make anyone ugly laugh as hard as Nicole Byer. And few comedians can make light of thoughtful topics in such a humorous, cringeworthy way. Her podcast, Why Won’t You Date Me?, uses a format similar to O’Brien’s podcast (although Byer’s came first): she asks her guests—from Grace Helbig, to Rachel Bloom, to Jameela Jamil—why they won’t date her and why other people won’t date her.
The show dissects the gross, entertaining, and incredibly exhausting experience that is dating in the 21st century, and shows us that in the end, all we want is someone to love (and to do *~other~* things with).
Favorite Episodes: “Why’d You Stop Dating Me? (With Nick Snow),” “Do Men Not Respond to Funny Women? (With Joanna Bradley),” and “Tinder Troubles (With Will Hines).”
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be married to a porn star, at least one of these episodes is for you.
In Committed, author Jo Piazza interviews couples from all over the country about what it’s like to be married. There’s a husband and wife who both lost limbs at the Boston Marathon, a couple with one partner who came out as transgender during their marriage, and a couple with a 25-year age difference.
Piazza’s stories give a fresh perspective on dating advice, as all of these couples come from completely different backgrounds and have overcome their own truly unique situations. Have tissues handy—some stories will result in tears.
Favorite Episodes: “Suddenly Samantha,” “Jerry,” and “You Are My Safe Place.”
Conversations With People Who Hate Me
Dylan Marron goes where few have gone before: the comments section of social media. And the best part? He changes lives because of it.
In Conversations With People Who Hate Me, Marron finds the individuals who comment hurtful and hateful things in the comments of his social media posts and records their conversation. His conversations usually start out awkward (I mean, who actually wants to talk face-to-face with the people you talk shit about online?), but turn into eye-opening and beautiful conversations about mental health, social justice, and the human experience.
Favorite Episodes: “Hurt People Hurt People,” “Bigot Scum,” and “You Are a Liar.”
Part pop-culture breakdown, part on-air therapy, The Read, hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle, is a podcast dedicated to bringing you the tea and making you feel heard.
The hosts are engaging, hilarious, and full of heart. Plus, they have undeniable chemistry and aren’t afraid to air out their failures on air. The show is refreshing and exciting, calling out racism and sexism critically and intellectually while simultaneously making listeners burst at the seams.
Favorite Episodes: “Super Soulja Bros.,” “The Circle of Bey and Nike,” and “The Big White Mad.”
Anyone who’s even kind of into podcasts probably already knows about Dax Shepard's podcast in which he interviews actors, comedians, musicians, and psychologists about how they got to where they are now.
This podcast almost borderlines on self-help, but trust me. Shephard’s conversations show us the human side of some of the most decorated and accomplished people today, reminding us that success doesn’t look the same for everyone and that it takes guts, grit, and a hell of a lot of therapy to be simply okay with who you are.
Favorite Episodes: “Jason Mantzoukas,” “Joy Bryant,” and “Experts on Experts: Michael Gervais.”